Sunday, July 31, 2011

Alpacamundo: Baby Bellies

It's subtle, so maybe I'm convincing myself that it's there.

Daisy is due in 2 weeks

Alpacas don't really look pregnant until they are very close to giving birth.  Also, the younger girls are able to hide it longer.  The subtlety I'm seeing is that their waists are beginning to disappear and they look just a little bit more round.

Frieda is also due in 2 weeks

Daisy and Frieda are with their first cria.  These are our two very first female cria and now they are pregnant with their very first cria.  It's pretty exciting times here on the Alpacamundo Farm.  They are due in two weeks.

Kocoa is with her third and not due until October.

Kocoa on the left, is due with her 3rd cria in October.
Keyla on the right, is open.
 Keyla is not with cria.

Finally, a shot of all of our girls together... just because I like it. :-)

Friday, July 29, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece - 2011, week 4 and wrap-up

Week one, two and three are here.  Week four and my final wrap-up are below.  :-)

Friday, July 22nd - Challenge Day

I was thinking that last Thursday was going to count as my challenge day.  However, since I've been having so much fun with my drop spindle, I thought I might try to take it to the next level.

I am very much a park and drafter when it comes to spindling.  So I have decided that my challenge shall be to try to move into a more fluid motion of spinning and drafting all at once.

6 days of spindling = ~1/2 ounce of Paco-Vicuna Yarn

I was not able to get an action shot, but I was able to spin and draft all in one motion. At least until the yarn broke. :-/  It took me a bit to get the yarn “fused” back together, but I will definitely spend more time spindling properly. :-)

Saturday, July 23rd

Back to the Batts of Wonder... I sure do enjoy spinning Huacaya Alpaca.

Sunday, July 24th

~ 2 ounces of Huacaya Alpaca Yarn after 3 days of spinning

Wrap-up and Thoughts

My goals were:
  • Spin every day the Tour races - Not Completed.  I missed three days and made up one.  So I have a deficit of two days.
  • Finish Spinning the Black Huacaya Alpaca Batts of Wonder - Not Completed.  I have started spinning this yarn, but have a ways to go before I complete the lot.
  • Spin the Tibetan Mastiff Fur I carded a while back - Completed.
  • Improve my skills to the point of nothing being over spun. - In Progress.  I'm doing much better.  I still have small bits of over-spun yarn, but I have come a long way baby.
  • Practice Spinning Thick. - Completed.  The TM fur was started out a bit thin, but I was able to get the yarn to a more consistent thicker thickness.  With it being plied I have a wraps per inch (wpi) of 8-10.  Which is much thicker than my normal 17-18 wpi singles.
  • Spin with a Drop Spindle while I'm travelling. - Completed.
  • Spin only alpaca-related fibers - Completed.  I spun Tibetan Mastiff Fur which we use use protect our alpacas, Paco-Vicuna which is an alpaca breed in development and Black Huacaya Batts of Wonder.
While I wasn't as prolific as last year and I am disappointed that I did not meet all of my goals, I am proud of my accomplishments.

The resulting yarns are very different and therefore good for different purposes.  Which brings me to how my spinning has changed since last year's Tour de Fleece...

I was much more interested in trying out different fibers and seeing what happened.  But over the last year I have migrated into spinning for specific projects.  I think this is good because aside from the one yarn I spun for my BFF Hat, all of my TdF2010 yarns are still in my stash.

Golden Tibetan Mastiff
22 + 106.5 yards at 8-10wpi, 6.5 ounces of 2-ply yarn.
(10 days of spinning)

I still think it would be fun to actually spin during the Tour de France... as in spin at the same time and same length of time the riders are racing... maybe next year?  ;-)

Be sure to check in with the other Fiberistas over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.  As always, you're certain to find inspiration.  Happy Fiber Arts Friday.

Sunday, July 24, 2011

I Won!

Yea.  I won a lovely box with handmade soap, lotion and a washcloth.

I entered a blog giveaway, but didn't realize it.  I left a comment on a new-to-me blog after the author had found me and left a note.

Yes, it's true.  If you leave a comment and I don't know who you are, I follow the links to check you out.  ;-)

So I went to check out the lovely Paula Parrish and left a note.

I would tell you that Paula is brilliant because I love lavender, I love handmade soap and I love perfection in packaging.  It's almost as if this little box was made just for me.  But then honestly, who doesn't appreciate lavender and homemade goodness tied up in a perfect little package??

I have given the soap and lotion a spin and have to tell you... it's yummy.

So when you have a few minutes, go say hello to Paula and if you're so inclined check out her shop too.

Friday, July 22, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece - 2011, week 3

My Tour de Fleece installments for week one and two are linked and week three is below.  :-)

Friday, July 15th

No spinning today.  Which means I have skipped three days and made up one.  Therefore I have a deficit of two days and only one more opportunity to make it up.  :-(

Saturday, July 16th

Well, I was planning to return to spinning my Tibetan Mastiff Fur this week.  Instead, I took one of my Tibetan Mastiffs to the park with the drop spindle and paco-vicuna  roving.  :-)

This is Wonton, she is seven months old now and pushing 75 lbs.  It's crazy to go back to when she first came to live with us.  We thought she was big then.  ;-)

Sunday, July 17th

Well, I'm finally back to my wheel and Tibetan Mastiff Fur.  I added two half-batts this morning and have four to go.  So it will be a couple of days before both spindles are full and I can begin plying.  :-)

I think taking the photo outside shows the fiber color much better.

Monday, July 18th - Rest Day

I didn't spin today.  So I continue to have a spinning deficit of two days.  I did however, make it to knit night which was super fun.  :-)

Tuesday, July 19th

I finished the Tibetan Mastiff Singles! Tomorrow, I ply!!

Wednesday, July 20th

I plied!

It turns out that my (new and still unused) Lazy Kate is narrower than my bobbins, so I wound each bobbin into a ball prior to plying.  Which isn't terrible as it gave me the opportunity to evaluate my work.

The first bobbin was thinner at the front and had more over-spun areas than the second bobbin.  The second bobbin was a more consistent thickness through-out.  So I am improving on my goal of no over-spun yarn, but I am not there yet.  :-)

I really like the finished yarn.  It's quite balanced and nearly even weight throughout.

The lot weighs 6 5/8 ounces and measures 127.5 yards over two skeins at 8-10 wpi.

Regarding some questions on the Tibetan Mastiff Fur.

I think I should wash the fiber prior to carding next time. Also a third run through the carder or a pass through a diz would make the batt/roving a bit more homogeneous and therefore nicer to spin.

The unwashed TM Fur has a faint smell of stinky feet, but it's not overtly smelly.  It certainly is not wet-dog-like nor anywhere close to the one raw sheep's fleece I've had the pleasure of smelling and now that it's been washed, it has a faint smell of lavender and mint.  :-)

I don't know the diameter of the TM Fur, so I attempted a photo comparison.  The Paco-Vicuna fiber on the left measures 17.3 microns and TM Fur is on the right.  The TM fur is definitely more coarse but the character is similar with a subtle crimp in both fibers.

Both fibers also have a good staple length of about 2 inches.

Thursday, July 21st

(Finally) I am back to the Black Huacaya Batts of Wonder.  :-)

I've been saying I'm half-way complete with the lot for quite some time.  I started with 17 ounces and have about 12 ounces to go.  So that's a long way from half-way complete. ;-)

At my approximate spinning rate of one ounce per hour, that's 12 hours of spinning between now and Sunday or three hours of spinning each day between now and then.  I'm usually not a negative person, but I'm  pretty sure that is not going to happen, especially since I didn't spin for 3 hours today.  So, I'll do what I can and be happy with the result.  :-)

So that's it for week three.  Be sure to visit the Wonder Why Gal and everyone else participating in Fiber Arts Friday.  :-)

Thursday, July 21, 2011

Fooled Me

As I've said a few times that I did not label the plants in my garden.  Also a few of these plants I have not grown before.  Enter the cucumber...

There is a big, tall plant in the middle of my garden.  It is perfectly spaced between the zucchini and yellow squash and perfectly aligned between the rows.  I planted a cucumber but I couldn't remember exactly where.  So it made perfect sense to me that it was in this location.

I had been wondering if it was ever going to flower and give me wonderful cucumbers for our summer salads.  Then a few days ago I noticed the beginnings of flower heads.  Now as I mentioned, I've not grown cucumbers before, but I thought these didn't look right.

Then, Ta Da!!! It's not a cucumber.  It's a volunteer sunflower.  I had a pretty good laugh at myself.

So it seems I can add cucumber to the list of plants that did not survive our cold spring and hail storms.

On the other hand, we have been harvesting a few zucchini and yellow straight-necks every couple of days and the many, many green tomatoes are getting bigger.

My one lone corn stalk looks like it might do something soon and the beets and carrots are all ready for harvesting.

So this summer has been quite a fun experiment so far.  I can't get over how productive my squash plants have been.  They never did this well in Albuquerque.  They definitely have more access to rain-water here as well as more sun.  Yes, I know New Mexico generally as more sunny days than Colorado, but my garden there had shade from big elm trees where my garden here has zero shade.

Monday, July 18, 2011

Friday, July 15, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece - 2011, week 2

Welcome back to my weekly Tour de Fleece installment.  Week one progress is here and week two progress is below.  Please enjoy.  :-)

Friday, July 8th

Woo Hoo.  Bobbin #1 of Tibetan Mastiff is full!

Saturday, July 9th

No spinning accomplished.  :-(

Sunday, July 10th

I began spinning bobbin #2 of the Tibetan Mastiff Fur.  My intent is to ply these once both bobbins are full.  Then I will wash the yarn and set the twist.

I think it's going pretty well. There are small bits that are over-spun, but really this is significantly better than the yarns I've spun in the past.

I am having a challenge showing off the fiber in my photos though.  The places with the best light in my house offer the worst background... eew... 1974 linoleum.  OK, maybe the linoleum isn't original to the house, but it certainly is not of the current decade... or century for that matter.  :-/

Technically the fiber is golden, but it looks beige in the photo.  Add blonde wood and "white" linoleum and you get a very blah photo.  I'll see what I can do to make these photos more interesting.

Monday, July 11th - Rest Day

Today was supposed to be a rest day, and I am travelling.  However, since I missed one day last week and one this week, I decided to spin a make-up session.  Not sure if that's "allowed."  ;-)

I brought my drop spindle and a ball of paco-vicuna roving.  I haven't spun paco-vicuna before but I thought starting with roving rather than a batt or cloud would be the better choice.

...and I love it.  :-)

This roving is really just luscous.  I'm enjoying spinning it.

Tuesday, July 12th

Wednesday, July 13th

Thursday, July 14th

Not sure if you can see a difference from yesterday... I only had a little bit of spinning time in the morning prior to the going to the office and my flight home.  I'm considering spindling at the airport, but I still feel like a spazz with the drop spindle.  So we'll see how I'm feeling when I get there.

Much, much later in the day...
 I didn’t spin at the airport but I did spin on the plane. I spun while we were waiting 2 hours to take off and then I spun while we were diverted and slowed down in flight.  The weather in Denver added 3 hours a to my trip.  :-/

A few people watched and smiled. My seat mates asked a couple of questions. One had visited Peru last year.

I think today counts as my Challenge Day since I over came a fear of spindling in public and I did it in a very cramped space. Also it was a challenge to just stay calm while they kept saying the next update from ATC will be in 30 minutes... I rescheduled my shuttle home 3 times.

I'm am back home now, so the paco-vicuna and spindle will be set aside in favor of my wheel and Tibetan Mastiff Fur which I hope to finish up soon.  :-)

Please remember to check in with the other Fiberistas over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder because it is Fiber Arts Friday.

Sunday, July 10, 2011

First Harvest!

Yep.  We had our first

and second harvest this week.

These are (of course) zucchini, straight neck yellow squash, teeny-tiny beets and one pathetic jalapeno.

So far we've just eaten them raw on a salad and in wraps with grilled chicken.  So delicious.  :-)

I'm really excited about how my garden is doing.  This is my row of tomatoes.  :-)

I could have planted the squash further apart.  My spaghetti squash wants to take over the entire space and the zucchinis and yellows are pretty close together right now too.

Also next year, I am thinking about making one row of beets and spreading the seeds out more.  They came out of the pouch a bit faster than I expected.  ;-)  So this year they are jam-packed and therefore small.

On the grub front, I've been chatting with my cousin a bit about ginea hens.  She has both ginea hens and chickens and says the gineas will not destroy the garden like chickens do.  So we're thinking about it.  But after the raccoon adventure a few weeks ago, I want to be certain we give the birds (if we get them) a safe place to roost.

Our neighbor set out a bunch of lady bugs, so we've been seeing a lot of them and there was an interesting spider.

I'm not sure what's going on with our 2nd pear tree.  I'm hoping this is a result of the huge hail storm we had about a month ago.

And one last photo because our peaches are growing very well.  :-)

I hope you have a great week.  :-)

Friday, July 8, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2011, week 1

Today is my first instalment for the 2011 Tour de Fleece.  :-)

I decided to start this Tour with the Tibetan Mastiff Fur I carded in April.  I am giving the yarn back to our breeder.  So even though she said she's not in a hurry for the yarn, I feel like it's been too long.

She would like this yarn to be thick, and I want to practice thick.  Therefore I am planning a thick, two-ply yarn and two TdF goals are now underway.

Saturday, July 2nd
...and I'm not "feeling it."  :-/  This is my first time spinning dog fur and my first time spinning from a batt that I made.  I'm feeling like I should have waited to try this on the challenge day.

Sunday, July 3rd
It took a little bit of time, but I think I have my mojo back. :-)  Of course this yarn is not thick. :-/

Monday, July 4th
I'm about half-way complete with the first bobbin.

Tuesday, July 5th
I wasn't really in a spinning mood today. I was much more interested in playing in my garden.  So it's a good thing I gave myself the goal of a half-inch per day.  ;-)

This is going very slow, so I'm feeling like I will be spinning Tibetan Mastiff for the entire Tour right now. ;-)

Wednesday, July 6th
No spinning accomplished. :-(

Thursday, July 7th
Finally, I have made some visible progress.  :-)  Two half-batts to go and then I will be half-way complete with the Tibetan Mastiff fur.

So that's the end of week 1.  Be sure to check in on the other Fiberistas over at Wisdom Begins in Wonder.  Many are also participating in the Tour de Fleece and have spun up some beautiful yarns.

Tuesday, July 5, 2011

Fruits, Vegetables, Weeds and a Bug

I've spent many hours over the last few days weeding my garden.  It finally looks like I'm cultivating fruits and vegetables instead of weeds.  :-)

Yes, I do realize there are still a lot of weeds.  ;-/  But I do like these wide shots since they allow me to see the garden changing as the weeks go by.  That huge plant to the right of center is a cucumber.

Most of the plants have fruit on them.  Check out these tomatoes.

I had planted 9 Roma tomatoes in hopes of having enough to make and can sauce this summer.  So it looks like we are finally on our way.  :-)

The beets are supposed to be ready to harvest, but Hubba wants them to get bigger.

Most of the squash plants have fruit er veggies (?) too.  I think we will be able to harvest a few zucchinis and yellow straightnecks this week.

Here are a couple of squash blossoms for your viewing pleasure.

I harvested some basil yesterday and made pesto from scratch for the very first time. :-)  I would share a photo, but we put it on a pizza with grilled chicken and ate it all before I remembered to fetch my camera. It was delicious.  :-)

I found several of these guys while I was weeding. I think they're soon to be cicadas, but I'm not sure. Does anyone know?

Finally, while I was weeding my garden this weekend, I was daydreaming about having a booth at the Farmer's Market. giggle.  It sure would be fun.  :-)

Friday, July 1, 2011

Fiber Arts Friday: Tour de Fleece 2011

Like many of the Fiber Arts Friday Fiberistas, I have joined up with the Team of Wonder for the Tour de Fleece.


 The Tour de Fleece is a fiber spinning adventure set to mirror the Tour de France.

This Tour runs from Saturday, July 2nd (tomorrow) through Sunday, July 24th.  The Tour races every day with the exception of two rest days.  We are encouraged to spin every day the Tour races as well as spin something challenging on Friday, July 22nd which is the hardest day of the cycling race.

 Just like last year, I will post daily progress on my weekly Fiber Arts Friday posts.

 My goals for this Tour are:
  • Spin every day the Tour races - I'm not setting a time goal.  The Quasi-Commissioned Project taught me that I prefer to enjoy spinning without worrying about the time.  So if I spin as little as a half-inch of yarn, it counts.
  • Finish Spinning the Black Huacaya Alpaca Batts of Wonder - I am currently about half-way complete with the lot.  This is also a goal from my WIP List.
  • Spin the Tibetan Mastiff Fur I carded a while back - again, a goal from my WIP List.
  • Improve my skills to the point of nothing being over spun.
  • Practice Spinning Thick.
  • Spin with a Drop Spindle while I'm travelling.
  • Spin only alpaca-related fibers - the Tibetan Mastiff Fur counts because we are using Tibetan Mastiffs to protect our alpacas.  In addition to the Black Huacaya Batts of Wonder, I also have llama, baby camel and paco-vicuna fibers in my stash.
I will be spinning on my trusty Louet S10 DT...

as well as my one-and-only-not-so-fancy drop spindle.

Since today is Fiber Arts Friday, please check in with the other Fiberistas.  You're sure to see something interesting.